Friday, September 22, 2006

Affirming Diversity; Resisting Decisiveness

The day I arrived in the world, my mother’s stomach had been opened wide to bring me out. She was still under the influence of the anesthesia when the doctor and nurse decided to bring me to her. Slightly awake from the anesthesia effect, she opened her eyes and looked at the doctor – " It’s a boy, Doctor" she pronounced even before he could say anything. She had pronounced my fate as well. No, I was not a sex: Male. I was sex: Female. But my whole life has been coloured "grey" – gender ambiguity. I enjoy the trousers and the short hair. I loved the feminine qualities in me and the masculine ones. I loved women who were not really Oh, so feminine and men who are not anxious to prove they are MAN.

I like men like my current boyfriend, Yogi. Happy to sleep in my night dress and happy not to have to prove that he has what it takes to make me happy. In fact, Yogi challenges my thought process all the time. Like he did in Bombay this time after our return from Kolkata where he, I and my new friend Anusri met for a small one-night-out at the beach.

" Resist! Resist! Resist!" Yogi said firmly

" Okay! Chill! " Anusri and I had reacted together

" Time to think things over, guys. We can’t take things lying down any more."

" Yogi, ever since you have returned from Kolkata, you seem to be transformed from a cool collected chap to a militant rebel" Anusri observed.

" Blame it on the Bengali babu!" He said with a wink, looking at me.

" Please! I am not a babu" I retorted.

" Are you sure?" Yogi asked doubtfully.

" No! No! Yogi", Anusri came to my rescue, "Think diversity; Think many. Think gender-bender".

"Yup!" I laughed, " Think Judith Butler and all that. What? It has taken us twenty years or more to rethink ourselves – who we are and say and confirm what Butler said years ago, gender is a social construct and it is a grey space you just cannot put forcefully into black or while zones."

Yogi, Anusri and I were on Gorai beach. Just for this one night. Gorai beach? That’s the one I visited all my childhood years in Bombay – a beach which was isolated and you could sit inside the shacks, or on the wall and get intoxicated by the roaring sound of the sea. Your hair would turn into a large mass of wired mesh. And although you were asked not to, you would risk your life and sit by the water being bathed by the tide rushing in on you. The sand caving in under you to fit your bottoms. Relax! And sip your beer straight from the bottle like as if you had what it took to take the world by storm.

Sadly, Gorai is not the same any more. However.

In the present context, Yogi was really surprised that despite talking of diversity, many-ness, the 7th National Conference of Autonomous Women's Movements in India was visibly glaring with the absence of males. So had they decided to beat it and get on with their lives? Or, was it that the feminist movement in India had expelled them from their womb? Even this, was it that the movement had contributed to the making men who were now different and therefore did not need to go out there and make a statement. Or worst of all – had the movement created a divide. That there were men who felt threatened and hence became more male, while others who now felt liberated enough, fell into the grey zone, not really man, neither woman, somewhere in between. To go with the theme of the Conference - Affirming Diversity; Resisting Decisiveness. So where were they?

" How can one definitely say that just because I am in a male body, I have nothing that qualifies me to be what women pride themselves to possess? I cannot be cast into the box saying " The underprivileged – Sex: Male ". I am not going to accept this state. I will resist!"

" Cool it boy! After all we are all shaped by the feminist movement in India and abroad and that gives you a special privilege, to be who you are. "

" Thank God for that. Or else I would have had to keep doing what my father, grand father and great grand father had been doing all their lives! Born male. Get education. Become a professional. Work. Marry. F**K. Produce kids. Contribute to bringing up the next generation of labour force. Or get your girl-child married so she can produce another generation of homo sapiens."

He took a breath and continued, "I like to be able to be in a relationship, without having to make a commitment to marriage. I can make love without having to worry about having kids. I don’t have to be the sole breadwinner. In fact I am not the breadwinner at most times…I can just relax and do my music and make enough money to look after my needs only. I am responsible only for myself. I can cook and wash. And I don’t need my girlfriend to select my clothing and underwear. What a ridiculous thing to do! I have the opportunity to liberate myself from the clinging claws of women – thank God my mother never had the time to be there and cast her overbearing self on me. I was forced to think for myself."

" Thanks to the woman’s movement? Anusri asked again.

" Sure! Thanks to them! Can’t you see, I am not your typical Indian male? I have broken the gender stereotype and therefore I am not your typical Indian "son" who is breastfed by their mothers till they reach their funeral pyres!"

Anusri and I were going to get him this time. We raised ourselves from the wet sands of Gorai beach and were about to hurl ourselves on him, but!

He was right! Damn! He really should have been there at the Conference.

Bye! Bye! Ms Bi

The feminists in India are doing it again!

Starting September 9th upto 12th September, 2006, the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata is going to witness the National Conference of Autonomous Women's Movements in India . The critical day for me is the 10th September, the day marked out for women with alternate sexual preferences. Films, video, discussions, debates will walk hand in hand with art, literature, poetry, music throughout the day and night. Be yourself. Go and present what you have contributed to this field. Or just participate. Kolkata is getting ready and opening itself up to something new - providing a platform for discussions and debates on alternate sexuality. So is Kolkata prepared for it? Our Bengali babu has a feudal background. He is dominating and likes to believe that he is the custodian of the Bengali community’s’ value system. He is a bhadrolok. He cannot be open to such obscene discussions on sex and sexuality. In fact he would like to know what one has done with such base energies? Instead please tell him, he says, how you have mustered those desires and transformed them to higher intellectual pursuits. - Art, literature, poetry, drama, films? Expect him, therefore, to rave and rant and perhaps go to the extent of lathi charge and stone pelting to muffle the voices of the yet, under-privileged! He is going to say that these women have lost their lajja ( shame) and are behaving like prostitutes. When it comes to caustic remarks, our Bengali babu cares not for politically correct language. He wishes to sting and he does it well.

So in such an environment, the poor bisexual women are wondering what they are going to do. Who is going to hear their small and innocuous voice? Never mind the fact that although they are unrecognized, it is believed that they outnumber the gay and lesbian community. There also are a good number of them living in the heterosexual community. They have been making placards saying – " Bisexual women in India. Recognize the Grey Zone." As such, bisexuality is not an unheard of word nor is it something no body has discussed before. However, they feel they are the least understood. And in the present context, when everyone is defining who they are, - gay, lesbian, or whatever, the bisexuals feel they are being marginalized.

Still others ask, who in the Sam-Holy- Hill is a bisexual? In simple terms, a bisexual is one who is attracted to both genders, emotionally and sexually. If one is a lesbian, gay or someone belonging to any other existing or emerging sexuality, one might not find acceptance in society at large but at least one is known to be existing. If you are a heterosexual, then of course you are God’s own creation and the Gods will kiss the ground on which you walk. You contribute to the growing numbers of humankind, just by your act of sexual pleasure (hopefully!) you produce results in tangible terms. Therefore, may your flock increase. Forget for the moment, rape, incest and horrors of child sexual abuse.

But a bisexual? Dammit! Who the hell are they to ask for their place under the sun? But a bisexual will tell you they do need their place under the sun or they are being considered the 21st Century socio-sexual outcast. The reason? They are drawn to both sexes, and are comfortable to relate sexually and emotionally to both genders. In fact, they are the ones who feel the compelling need to interact at a very deep level with both genders. In fact often, being with one gender, they feel the need to be with the other as well. Ask any confirmed and comfortable with their sexuality, bisexual man or woman and they will tell you their truth – they long for both.
So are they a confused lot? Or are they escapists? Or they just don’t want to make any commitments? Or the worst! Seekers of joy of both the worlds?

I will take the last, first. Yes, they say they are comfortable and love to delight in both the worlds but not because they want it like that but because their very nature drives them to both. Here in this space, the pain and the pleasure co-exist and the desire to relate to a man at some times and a woman at other times, emotionally and sexually, are needs that come up ever so often. Sometimes, at different times and sometimes all at the same time. Then are they escapists, running hither and thither drinking out of a cup of emotional and sexual concoction all over the place and not facing the reality staring in their face - commitment to one is the key to lasting and emotionally rewarding relationships. Are they afraid to make a commitment?

This brings us to a larger question, what is a commitment? In my understanding, a commitment means, willingness to go out and pledge ones love to another and make a promise that one will be with the other through thick and thin, in all the days of their lives. Dedicated and always there. And already I have a problem there. To me it sounds like a marriage, an institution, a module I must fit into may be even if I have to sacrifice and compromise my originality. Therefore for me commitment is of the heart and not of the mind. Others may think differently. In such an environment, an honest bisexual may run the risk of being annihilated as far as their driving desire to be with both genders is concerned. And this poses a grave danger. The denied emotions will sit there in hiding and fester, causing in the long run a whole lot of physical and emotional problems to self and others around.

What drives a human being to form relationships with persons outside themselves? It is their need to share, to give and to receive. It means that they need to nurture and be nurtured in return. At a deeper level, it is to find an expression to their creativity. Is one person enough to get all these needs fulfilled at all times and whenever the need arises? Is there a surety in having our demands met everytime they arise? In other words, will the demand and supply curve intersect – Everytime? Over time? Over years on end?

So on to the last and final point – a bisexual longs for both. In that way they seem to be in a better position since they willingly want to be with both sexes, it is more likely that their needs will be fulfilled. At most times. BUT! Since they long to give expression to both sides of their emotional and sexual selves, without really making a commitment to any, lesbians and gay community demand that bisexuals stop sitting on the fence or face the consequences! No body is ready to dabble and give them a wee bit of love and care because they accuse them of moving around in circles that are taboo to lesbians – being with heterosexual men and women. Most men who are with bisexual woman, say, if their woman wants to be with another women as well, well it doesn’t matter. Anyway what can two women do together? They don’t have what it takes! Or they say, if the other woman has to be there, then she has to be included in their already existing relationship. In other words, make it a threesome. Sic!

So in all ways, bisexuals are damned! They are threatened by all. They know the agony and the ecstasy only too well to commit to either. And this has contributed largely to their sitting on the fence!

Evenso, bisexuals in India, say they they are sexually empowered human beings. How, may we ask can they claim such self-proclaimed honour? They say, a bisexual woman or man is comfortable with their own bodies - sexual and emotional bodies. They admit and accept they are different. They say that in them, the male and female energies, the purusha and prakriti, the yin and yang, flow without conflicting with each other. They are balanced and do not try to over rule each other. They proclaim, they are not afraid of loving. They are not intimidated when a man or woman approaches them with love or passionate desire. They are comfortable, open and responsive. They say they are empowered human beings because, although there may be a number of factors that contribute to the making of an empowered person, but one of the most crucial is being comfortable with ones own body, emotions, sexual self and emotional self. They argue, it is impossible to be empowered or even to claim that one is, if one is not at ease with oneself and one’s sexual being. Point to be noted! They claim that they can handle both. In a nutshell, they have a holistic attitude towards their bodies, physical and emotional.
It all begins at home, they say. A man or a woman empowered within exudes and projects a different self to the outside world. You cannot miss an empowered person. They are brave and fearless. Empowerment is often so dependent on what we think of ourselves – our emotional and sexual selves. A person, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or belonging to any existing and emerging sexuality can hardly be an empowered person, when down at the basics they are uncomfortable about who they are.

So in the light of the above what should be the space allotted to the bisexuals? These are the people who are in the areas of grey and feeling left out in the cold. Unless we only understand black and white, and do not want to challenge ourselves about our fixed thoughts and belief systems around our sisters and brothers, they will continue to blame us for not giving them their due place and denying them the human right to be different.
But tarry! What is our Bengali dada going to say to this? " No," he will say raising his already hyper and angry voice,

" Vhat! Who are you? Vhy are you sitting heaaar with your card?"

He will then put on his large black framed spectacle and peep at their placard with distaste staring out of his face
" Bisexual? Vhat is that? Aiy! You pick your bag and go…anywhere else! Not heaaar in our sonar Bangla. Ve do not have such shameless weemen and garls!. Bye! Bye! Meeees Bi!"

Psssst: I have asked them not to lose heart. Don’t give up the fight. Take on a strong voice to fight your cause. Someone who can put your plight on Television. And who may I ask that might be? Sagarika Ghosh of course! Sagarika who? Sagarika, the most revolutionary icon of Bengali mental brain and brawn – none other than the inspiring anchor person of India 360 showing on CNN-IBN at 8.30 primetime across India. And of course they must not forget me, their most active crusader. Together, we can make it happen. We can show him nicely, our custodian of Bengali cultural values, our well meaning but obsolete Bengali babu, our bhadrolok, how he has to change with times.
Join me in the fight for our rights. Write in to: Or just comment!

It Never Rains;It Pours

Freudian interpretation of dreams" I declared with some authority, " I would interpret this dream as the following… Ahem! Would you like to have it opened up for you?" I concluded.

Anusri stared at me doubtfully. " Okay, but don’t come up with your own theory" she look at me threateningly.

" Lie on the couch and let me sit behind you in typical style" I said taking a seat by the window.

I stared out of the window at the lovely green mountains that surrounded us in this hill station where we were on a week’s vacation.

Who is Anusri? You will remember, she is my office romance from my earlier piece "But Who Is Going To Be The Man?" She has been struggling with my advances towards her, loving and despising it all at the same time. And of late she’s done the worst – she’s started to work from home and so I don’t see her every day. We planned therefore to take a week off and hike up to Matheran, near Bombay. Just the two of us.

Presently she is going to share her dream with you and me.

" And…if you are ready…" I say

" Okay, I dreamt I was sleeping with someone, a woman. She was very dark and I was hugging her. We were in a room full of people including Nags from the office was there. I thought to myself…Oh, they are going to see me! I was afraid and shy. But I knew I liked this dark woman I was holding in my arms."

She turned around to face me " Okay! What is the meaning of that dream?"

"Simple! The black woman you are holding is the dark side of you. The side you do not want to acknowledge or see. Yet that is a side you love as well. Explains why you are holding on to her you see? The people you see around are the social faces you are ashamed to face as you willingly indulge in loving that side of yourself. You’ve been trying to hide the fact that you are not so main stream after all! These are your constructions. There is no Nags from the office etc."

Anusri flew at me. " You are so wicked! You’ve made that up, haven’t you?"

" No! Of course not! Why the hell should I want to make that up for you?"

" Because you imp," she said grabbing hold of my hair, " you’ll do anything to make me admit I have something going out for you!"

" Well don’t you? C’mon, you are really trying so hard to keep that side of you, who is capable of loving women, under cover. Admit it! You love me".

" No, I don’t. Or at least I am not aware of whether I do or I don’t."

" Oh! You are such a thinker".

If you have ever hiked up to Matheran in the rains (best time, by the way) you will know the beauty of that walk is something you can never forget in your life and it will haunt you till forever. We had arrived in Bombay early morning and taken a train at 4am to Neral from Dadar. It is one hour thirty minutes to Neral by local train. When you get down at Neral Station, you just have to start your walk. There are many ways to get to the top – hike the tough way or take a toy train. But Anusri and I love hiking and so our choice – take the road less traveled, the tarred but smooth road up to Matheran. We both knew that we would just have to walk up without halting at all. If we did we would never be able to walk with the same determination. Four and a half-hours! Non-stop! What determination it takes – the rain beating against us, drenched to the skin! Our feet slipping inside the keds….hard walk, hard work. When we reached the top, we were really exhausted. But exuberant!

Inside the Hill Top Hotel we had a lovely room overlooking the green hills and valleys. It is while we had our afternoon siesta that Anusri had this dream necessitating this Freudian interpretation of dreams. Away from our natural Delhi environment, Anusri was relaxed. Also there were a lot of people in Matheran last weekend. And that set the setting for the night.

Matheran does not have any discotheque but the Rain Dance just a little away from where we were staying was the most lively disco I had ever been to. Anu refused to dance in the rain but I dragged her to dance in the open-air dance floor, all so slippery and wet from the red mud and the downpour of screens of rain. We shook our tiredness away….having a few beers and rocking it till the early hours of the morning.

" You are going to give me pneumonia," she said as we walked back to the room. We were just about to turn the key of the door when I pulled her back in the open and this time without a word, I embraced her in my arms and kissed her for the first time, right here under the pouring rains and for some reason, she did not resist. Only after we sort of broke away from each other, she said, " How come you did not even ask my permission?" I moved close to her and together we turned the key to our room " Because, I realized, you like brute force"! She was going to react again but we were inside the room and already in bed with our wet clothes on.

" Let’s at least change," she said

" Yes", I said, my voice thick with emotion, " You help me do that and I will help you too " I said greedily kissing her body.

Have you ever made love in the rains or under a tin roof when the rain is pouring relentlessly down on it? It is called the dance of the wild horses – it is a passionate, steady pouring and you might have your music playing in your room but it is difficult to hear that sound over the thumping sound of the hoofs of the horses stamping on your roof. It is loud and clear like the fire in your eyes, and the blazing heat of your breath and the movements of your body. It binds you like two pythons would, if they were to get entangled with each other.

In Matheran, it never rains; it pours. All night long.

Ganga's Daughters

Kolkata is fiery red all over. Conches are sounding all over. Hindi filmy music mixes with Bengali new Poojo sangeet Radio Mirchi is buzzing with new excitement. There is jubilation in the air. - She is coming. Only for four days. She is coming home. The rains continue to lash the streets. The little ponds laugh. The greens cannot be hidden by the growing grey of the city. The idols of Durga are in their finishing touches period. From where I am, I am floating on the Ganga….

It has begun with a hair message. Warm hair oil is poured over my head and I feel the circular movement of gentle hands as they rub the oil into my scalp…slowly…round and round…turning my head this way and that…. a soft Rabindra sangeet playing in the background…..I breathe deeply…..and let go…floating inward….still conscious of the hands working around my head…behind my ears…and at the nape of my neck. Slowly I am fading out… breathing has become heavy …and slow…….soundless…..with gaps in between…..and moments I am not breathing at all…….yet I am alive……I know it despite my deeply relaxed state of being. Fresh mud from the banks of the Ganga river flowing through Hoogly, touching Kolkata, has been brought, to be laid on a new terrain, my body. I have asked for a mud bath..the grey-brown, ever so soft silt from Ganga’s river bed. Handfuls of it are being laid out on my ………face to be follow by my body. It is cool..smoothe..creamy. I guess my face, leaving my eyes, and lip are laden with soil. To enhance the breezy coolness, I can feel two slices of cucumber being laid out over my eyes. Now I cannot open them …my ears have become sharper. I can hear the sizzling sound from the kitchen as seasoning is being done to dhaal. The haunting aroma of paanch phoran fills the air and my olfactory glands take a deep doze of the fragrance of Bengal’s unique but simple five-spice seasoning. I can also hear the poojo songs on radio…the hands that are today’s guide to the celestrial are on my neck and my shoulders are now being turned to the banks of the river Ganga……slowly the silt spreads through my torso..the overwhelming feeling is that of a cold paste. How easy it is to feel cool in the middle of summer! My intestines are freezing as the mud spreads over my stomach.

My legs and thighs are in a let go….perhaps I will never walk again as they cannot be willed to move any more…I will only float like a plank of wood, without direction, on the body of Ganga……just float aimlessly…. The hands are rolling over my thighs and legs. Together with the coolness, I can simultaneously feel Ganga slowly but surely taking a firm grip of me, first my face and then the rest of the body as the mud dries over my body, slowly embracing my skin in its pores. No! It is not pissible to be away from Her too long….She has caught me today and will not let me go…..These hands are driving me closer to Her bosom…I don’t have to make any effort to come close to Her – She grips me to her bosom. I am in a let go…I cannot resist. My feet and toes are now covered by Her soil. There is a hand that is transporting me, transforming me……..the hands that now message my arms in a downward motion… …and before my fingers move into the soil, spreading themselves in the cool water of the earth of Bengal, I feel her lips touching the tips of my fingers….I feel the kiss of death….the kiss which will make me die to myself. In my head I hear my English School Headmistress, Miss Thomson read in her clear and British accent, " The Touch Of The Masters’ Hand" The story of the man who driven by poverty puts his guitar out to auction. But nobody buys it till he comes and tunes it. At the touch of the Master’s hand, the guitar fills the room with such melodious music that it is auctioned at a very high price.

The music in the room has changed and I can hear Beethovan as I am dying to myself….the Lady takes over what belongs to Her………I am powerless. I am Hers. She has gripped me now firmly. My fingers are firm and even the web between them are now cast in her soil. Gently, the cucumber slices are lifted and I open my eyes…….my vision is filled with Kolkata. My jaws have fallen slightly and the song on her lips is the song we sang together at midnight on the 10th of September, 2006 – the night of poems and song lyrics –

Mamma, when I look at the clear waters of my soul
I see your face
Mamma, when I hear the voices in my head
A thousand voices speak like you
Tell me mamma,
Is loving another woman, like loving myself

When Kolkata plays on her guitar, your ears can feel like they have got so finely tuned, like as if you’d smoked some pot…...gently strumming on her guitar, the strong embrace of the earth over me and around me….I drift off into a deep slumber……..Daughters of the soil, I see my mother merging into the beautiful idol of Durga, floating over the large breast of the Ganga.

I am Her.

Desire And Deviance

I saw her the moment I entered the room, sitting by herself, dressed in a red, low-necked tight mini dress. Her blonde-dyed hair fell partially over her shoulders. A few strands cover the large white beads she was wearing. Her hands and legs are crossed and she was carrying a small black evening bag. Her dainty feet were wearing white shoes. There was an empty chair beside her. She looked a bit lost.

I looked around the room hastily and my host saw me and came over.

" So nice, you could make it"

She went on to introduce me to a few people around. As I was making small talk with my new acquaintances, I darted my eyes frequently to the lady in red. I saw the Service boy approach her with a tray of wine-filled goblets. She took one with a colour-less drink. From where I stood, diagonally opposite her in the room, I could see she wore hardly any make up except for the dark shade of lipstick, which contrasted, with the colour of the wine she was sipping. The chair beside her was still empty. I began to stroll over to her side. She saw me approaching. At first she gave me a casual look. Then she looked again. Was she wondering if she knew me or was she just wondering why I was looking at her so constantly? The Service boy interjected our view of each other with a tray of wine. I picked up the same wine she was sipping. I was only a few feet away from her, when a young man in his late twenties suddenly came and sat on the chair beside her. She looked at him and he whispered something. They seemed to be quite comfortable with each other. She turned to me again as I was very close to her by now. I did not stop to look or smile at her. I sat on a chair behind her. She began to fidget around in her chair and quite unexpectedly, pretending to look behind her chair, she gave me a quick furtive look.

Who was she? Sitting behind, I could only see her back. Her hair covered some of her back but I could see the well – defined shoulder blades, as if they were holding her spinal column. Or better still, as if they were holding " Reiki" between them. She had a slim waist and she shifted often as if she was aware of the piercing looks from behind her. Momentarily, I looked away at the people filling the room. I recognized a few faces but was in no hurry to meet them. I was enjoying nursing my wine and playing with the globlet, tuning it in my fingers as if I was turning a thought in my mind. Maybe I was. I became aware of her again… she was looking at me, as I was looking away elsewhere. The man besides her was also curious. He looked behind to see what she was interested in. He did not think it was me. I shifted my glance elsewhere, too conscious to be under her direct observation. I crossed my legs and folded my arms over my solar plexus in order to protect myself from her direct looks. Something in me was moving at gut level and I skipped a couple of heartbeats as well. A couple was approaching them –

" Mr. and Mrs. Soni" They exclaimed " How nice to see you here"!

So she was married. He…was her husband. They stood up and began to talk with their acquaintance. I moved from behind her to a place a little away but from where I could see her face to face. So we kept this eye contact so to say, looking at each other, only when we were sure the other was not looking. When our glances fell on each other, it was very brief, never too long, nor too short…just that much! Just that right much!

The band had started playing their song and I saw her being lead by her husband to the dance floor. My host came over to me –

" Are you enjoying yourself? "

" Yes! " I said graciously.

" Want to meet someone"?

" I already have," I said in my mind, but audibly " Sure!"

" Meet Rahul" She said beckoning a tall, dark man in a grey suit. He looked like he had just come in from work.

" Rahul, this is Julia. You have been asking to meet her"

Rahul’s eyes lit up. " Yes, of course. I am delighted to meet you " he said with absolutely clear British accent. I approved of him, instantly.

" Will you dance with me"? Rahul asked.

We moved to the dance floor. I saw her there again and this time our eyes locked for a moment. She also looked Rahul up quickly. A fast number was playing and I lost myself to the music and my body began to answer to the need of the moment – I began to dance with Rahul. In between, I kept a watch on the lady with red and she kept an eye on me. Rahul had many questions – I had single syllable replies. Questions like when do I find the time to write? What inspires me? How does it all start in my head? Would I like to go back to advertising? And, I seemed a bit distracted…. Was something disturbing me? Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. I feared he would lose interest. But! The music changed and Rahul with I drew closer, our steps and bodies moving in slow and steady swaying motions. We also moved closer to the lady in red with her husband and then it really started to happen. We were both looking over the shoulders of the men we were dancing with and while I could see her husband was not inundating her with questions, Rahul was talking a lot. And making an effort to make me laugh. Which I did but everytime I laughed, I could see from the corner of my eyes that she was watching me more closely. I began to feel conscious. I was probably even blushing. And as luck would have it, within a few moments we were dancing almost brushing against each other. I gripped Rahul’s shoulder a little tighter as the moment of truth, so to say, stared me in the face. I looked away from her completely as I did not want to die if we were to touch each other, even vaguely. We were engaged in an act of desire and deviance from the existing circumstances in our lives. To distract myself from the moment, I began to talk to Rahul about whatever came to my mind. He, I suppose was aware there was something amiss. It was too much for me! So when I excused myself and went away to the cloakroom, he was not surprised at all.

But she followed me. As we approached the cloakroom, I proceeded out towards the doorway. She moved into the cloakroom. I returned and stood on the opposite side, wondering whether I should go in or not. There would be too many women inside. Or maybe not. Should I? Should I not? I decided I should and just as I opened the door to go in, she stood one foot away from me, trying to come out. Time stood still. If a Kirlian photograph had to be taken, our aura would have shown as merged. If an x-ray which measured the number of energy streams crossing each other between us, were taken, it would have shown only as a mass of energy, so dense that it could be seen as a solid bar only. Our heights were almost the same and therefore the curves on our torso, matched their opposites.

" Excuse me" she said softly.

I could not move. The moments were unending. Stretchiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing to eternity. I turned my head over my right shoulder and looked down and what happened after that was all in slow motion. She took a step on the side almost brushing my shoulder with hers, the front of her body almost scraping along mine as she moved to leave. I saw her drop her Business Card. As soon as I could, I picked it up from the floor. It was a simple card, which said – Ritu Soni. Writer. She had cancelled the home number and instead penned her Cell number. I hurried to the doorway. I was there just in time to see her husband drive in the Ford Icon. She opened the front door, and her body curved to make it accommodate inside the car. Her dress hitched up further to expose her biceps and as she bent to sit, her body exposed her cleavage slightly, just enough to stay with me for the rest of the night.
I turned the key to my own flat. It was 3am. I threw myself on the chair and pulled out the Business Card. I dialed the number. She picked up the call. And for the rest of the night, we kept the line engaged, speaking to each other with our breath.